By Gene Sellers, SVP, Head of Treasury Management Product Solutions Consulting at Wells Fargo
A phenomenal customer experience creates competitive advantage by differentiating your business from the competition. It doesn’t matter where you sit in your organization. You should be thinking about how to help distinguish the customer experience.
Often treasury operations, accounts receivable and accounts payable teams are tasked with controlling expenses and de-risking the business. While these objectives are vital to financial performance, on their own they may not lead to competitive advantage. Ideally, for everyone across the treasury, finance and accounting organization, curating the best possible customer experience is also top of mind.
Harness core operating services to serve the customer
How can you employ core treasury and operating services as strategic tools for enhancing customer value? Consider how the levers at your disposal for impacting expense, risk, cash flow and working capital also can serve customers. For example:
- Electronic and digital payment options can make payments seamless, simpler, easier, and faster.
- Execution excellence around payments and receipts can help customers to eliminate inquiries because information is available with immediacy.
Ultimately, it’s about removing impediments to doing business and building bridges to new and more opportunities.
Re-imagine the possibilities for strategic initiatives
Don’t view initiatives around expense, risk, cash flow, automation or systems integration in isolation from your customers. Consider how these projects can enable better customer interactions. For example:
- End-to-end process automation, beyond operational efficiency, can accelerate cash application and receivables posting, reduce exceptions, and free up credit availability faster so that customers can buy more and do so with immediacy.
- Improved process design and new technology can increase ease and simplicity for customers or suppliers.
Shift from a back-office mentality
When the customer experience is integral to a holistic mindset, it becomes a misnomer to label treasury, finance and accounting functions as “back office”. Everyone becomes front and center in contributing to customer value for competitive advantage.
As a result, organizational goals can align and collective actions can combine to enhance financial performance. This reflects on the financial statements as:
- Profitability, considering both revenue and expense impacts.
- Cash flow statements related to cash flow efficiency
- Balance sheet management, including improvements to Days Payable Outstanding and Days Sales Outstanding for working capital optimization
Start and end your day focusing on customers
Think about your potential impact on customer encounters. It may not be what’s immediately in front of you, what you’ve been tasked to achieve, but it is the end point in both directions. All revenue, cash flow, expense and risk starts with having customers. And all customer outcomes reflect on the financial statements in profit, balance sheet composition and cash flow.
All of us are connected to the customer. The goal is to make this intentional and then prioritize it. Doing so elevates the strategic aspect of your role and its contribution.
I used to close each business day by prioritizing the beginning of my next business day around the top three actions I will take to drive revenue. This has offered me a wide platform to prioritize and/or direct my actions. However, I am adjusting my priorities to focus on driving the customer experience. That seems like a key focus no matter who you are or where you sit in your organization.
Gene Sellers is Head of Treasury Management Product Solutions Consulting at Wells Fargo. He has spent 28 years in the financial services industry and has had a diversified career including multiple leadership roles in Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Treasury Management.
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